Insoo Hyun & Kyu Won Jung, Human Research Cloning, Embryos, and Embryo-Like Artifacts

Article excerpt

Insoo Hyun & Kyu Won Jung, Human Research Cloning, Embryos, and Embryo-Like Artifacts, HASTINGS CENTER REP., Sept.-Oct. 2006, at 34.

Most proponents of embryonic stem cell research believe it is unethical to destroy early ex vivo human blastocysts regardless of whether they are created by somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) or in vitro fertilization (IVF), since they believe both of these methods generate nascent human life. Some go further to argue that human research cloning carries an added moral burden because it would involve the deliberate creation and subsequent destruction of burgeoning human life solely for biomedical research, and because it would enliven the dreaded possibility of human reproductive cloning. The authors argue that each of these concerns may be scientifically and philosophically unwarranted.

Human blastocysts created by SCNT are, by definition, not derived from the union of sperm and egg. This is a fundamental and widely acknowledged biological difference between SCNT and IVF blastocysts. Yet out of this commonplace distinction emerge important new scientific and ethical implications that have gone previously unaccounted for in the public debate over embryonic stem cell research. Drawing on recent discoveries in primate SCNT, the authors advance the radical claim that human research cloning--thought by many to lie at the bottom of the slippery slope of stem cell science--may turn out to be one of the least morally problematic sources for deriving human pluripotent stem cells. Given the intractable nature of the public debate over embryonic stem cell research, the President's Council on Bioethics has explored the feasibility of deriving new human pluripotent stem cell lines through alternative means that do not involve the destruction of live, viable human embryos. …